Confined Space and the Law

The laws around confined spaces are designed to keep workers safe

People are killed or seriously injured in confined spaces every year in the United Kingdom. This includes many people trying to rescue others without sufficient equipment or training.

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees and others and this responsibility is reinforced by regulations.

The Confined Space Regulations 1997 place the following key duties on you:

  • Avoid entry to confined spaces, e.g. by doing the work from the outside;
  • If entry to a confined space is unavoidable, follow a safe system of work; and
  • Put in place adequate emergency arrangements before the work starts

You will need to undertake a risk assessment to identify not just the hazards that are inherent within the confined space but those that could be introduced through the activities being carried out. A range of controls will then need to be applied.

How we can help?

We can assist you and your teams in understanding the hierarchy of control which must be considered prior to commencing any work. The priority is always to avoid entry into confined spaces.

Think about other ways of carrying out the work, can the work be done another way to avoid entry?

If you must enter then there is a requirement to have a safe system of work that, dependant on the risk assessment and the nature of the space, needs several elements to be considered.

Many questions need to be asked such as:

  • The degree of supervision required
  • Competence of those working in the confined space
  • Communications both during the work and in emergencies
  • Testing and monitoring of the atmosphere within the space
  • Isolation procedures both mechanical and electrical
  • Emergencies and rescue

There are many more factors to consider and our specialist teams can advise you in what’s required. This could be through consultancy, training, equipment and the provision of rescue teams to ensure you can comply with your legislative requirements.

Download our brochure to learn more about your legal responsibilities surrounding confined spaces.